for Otago Daily Times (NZ) on April 18, 2009
Student Emma Tate ready to tuck into a freshly-cooked $3 Hare Krishna vegetarian lunch in the Otago University Students Association's Clubs and Societies building yesterday.
Food which is "good for the body, good for the soul" and costs just $3 has been increasing in popularity due to the current economic crisis.
Hare Krishna $3 lunches have been available at the Otago University Students Association Clubs and Societies building for more than 10 years.
However, they were "especially popular at the moment" because "there is less money around", co-ordinator Jambavati Dasi said.
"Where else do you get a delicious meal, including pudding, for $3?"Ms Dasi approached the association in 1998 about offering lunches when word got out about meals she had been teaching students to cook.
Now, about 200 people a day made the most of the cheap vegetarian lunches offered four days a week.
Hare Krishnas served 1 million plates of food worldwide a day, as the religion's founder did not want anyone within a 10-mile radius of a Hare Krishna group to go hungry, she said.
"We offer some beautiful blessed food. Good for the body and good for the soul."
It offered her the chance to inform people about the nutritional value of vegetarian food and encourage them to think about their diet.
"It's a major concern that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel and colon cancer in the world and are such big meat eaters," she said.
Yesterday, volunteers were dishing up curry and rice with apple crumble for dessert and today soup, fresh bread and chocolate pudding is on the menu.
Pakoras and samosas were available every day.
Student Emma Tate, a $3 lunch regular, was one of hundreds to file past the kitchen window yesterday and appreciated the tasty vegetarian fare on offer.
"I love them; they are awesome."
Clubs and Societies manager Debbie Coulter believed the lunches provided "good nutrition at an affordable cost" for students.
She also thought the relaxed, social environment was enjoyable.
OUSA provided the kitchen free of charge and last year upgraded the facilities to meet demand.
Further plans for development were afoot as Ms Dasi and a Dunedin City Council councillor had a lunch service in South Dunedin in the planning stages, she said.
A five-year plan included creating an eco-sufficient community in Waitati which would grow organic food and make it available to the public.
"Simple living and high thinking is the way to go," Ms Dasi said.
She hoped to work locally and include schools and charitable organisations where appropriate.
Anyone interested in the eco-sufficient community or starting a lunch service elsewhere in the city could contact her on (03) 471-7149.